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LCB Research: Nicaragua Conservation

With its rugged topography and tropical position at the crossroad of two terrestrial and two marine biogeographic realms, Nicaragua enjoys a remarkable diversity of organisms and life zones—this despite its modest size. Yet, rapid economic development, climate change, invasive species, agricultural expansion, and a poorly supported protected area system pose challenges to sustaining this biodiversity and its benefits. 

This project was initiated with a Fulbright Scholar Award to Dr. Albright that allowed him to spend 2017 in Nicaragua based at the Universidad Nacional Agraria (UNA). Since then, collaborators have been added and new activities developed. One of these is an analysis patterns and trends in environmental variables in and around Nicaragua's protected area network. Satellite observations and ground reports reveal alarming rates of deforestation (often exceeding 10% forest loss per decade even inside protected areas) and shortcomings in protected area management and protection. We are also beginning to look at characterizing and modeling habitat for wintering migratory birds.

As part of Dr. Albright's Fulbright teaching activities, he gave numerous talks, classes, and workshops in Nicaragua on topics including remote sensing, analysis and programing with R, landscape ecology, and species distribution modeling.

People: Albright, Carreon, Phillips

Key collaborators: Miguel Garmendia (UNA), Jurgen Guevara (Centro Humboldt), Tom Gillespie (UCLA), Sarah Otterstrom (Paso Pacifico), Mary Whitfield (Southern Sierra Research Station)

Funding: Fulbright, US Fish and Wildlife Service

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